Not joking: Duterte says 'gaas' can be used as disinfectant

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2020 12:30 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 30, 2020. Robinson Niñal Jr./Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he was not joking when he suggested alternatives to alcohol as disinfectants, such as gasoline, contrary to the remarks of his spokesperson and the country's health department.

Duterte, in a taped address aired Friday, said Filipinos can use "gaas" (kerosene) as disinfectants if they run out of alcohol. 

"Totoo 'yang sinabi ko alcohol. 'Pag wala kang alcohol di naman puwede na lalong mahirap, pumunta ka lang diyan sa gasoline station tapos patulo na," the President said.

(What I said was true about alcohol. If you don't have alcohol, it's much harder, so go to a gasoline station and get some.)

"That's disinfectant-- alcohol, gaas--patulo ka lang, just to disinfect... Para sa inyo na di nakakaintindi. Di ako nagbibiro, totohanan 'yun. Baka akala ninyo nagbibiro lang ako," he added.

(That's disinfectant--alcohol, gaas-- just get a fill to disinfect. For those who cannot understand, I am not joking. That was true. You might be thinking that I was only joking.)

Kerosene is irritating to the eyes and skin according to the World Health Organization.

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In a previous public address, the President had said that reusable facemasks could be disinfected by dipping these in gasoline or diesel. He even claimed that gasoline can be used to disinfect one's hands.

The US National Public Health Institute warned of the risks posed by gasoline when inhaled and exposed to skin.

Gasoline may cause asphyxiation in enclosed, poorly ventilated or low-lying areas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an advisory.

The CDC also said repeated or prolonged skin contact with liquid gasoline could degrease the skin, cause irritation, and dermatitis.

Both Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire previously said the President was only making a joke with the "gasoline" remark.

"Kayo naman, 4 na taon na si Presidente, parang di n'yo pa kilala si Presidente. Joke only. Bakit naman tayo maghuhugas ng gasolina?" Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a July 23 press briefing.

(The President has been in power for 4 years, it's as if you don't know him yet. That was a joke only. Why will we wash our masks with gasoline?) 

But Duterte on Thursday stood by his remarks, even saying that he would not be president if he was a fool.

"Sabi nito si Duterte loko-loko, g*g*, kung loko-loko ako ikaw na sana ang nag-Presidente, di ako," he said.

(They said that I was a fool. If I was a fool, you should have been President, not me.)